Selecting the correct oxygen concentrator

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Selecting the correct oxygen concentrator

Sunday, 02 May 2021 | Dr Shilpa Verma

The oxygen concentrator is one of the most necessary appliances if one has to treat a COVId-19 patient at home. One has to keep in mind that a COVID-19 patient has a requirement of 90 per cent oxygen concentration at a flow rate of one to five litres or 10 when he is suffering from acute respiratory distress or discomfort. The important thing to note is that the oxygen concentration required is 90 per cent and above. There are many concentrators in the market that are ranging from: Small: five to 10 kg, medium: 15kg and large above 20 kg. Large ones are used for critical care COVID-19 patients.

The small oxygen concentrators have an option flow rate of one to nine litres. But remember that doesn’t necessarily mean that one is getting 90 per cent oxygen concentration at the flow rate of say five litres. In a small oxygen concentration 90 per cent oxygen concentration is achieved only at a low rate of one to two litres. But whenever these machines are switched on at a high flow rate of five litres, the oxygen concentration drops to 30 per cent. This is not suitable for COVID-19 patients. It is probably suitable to people who have asthma or Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is important to check the marking on the concentrator that one is purchasing and see for the readings – whether it is 90 to 30 per cent for one litre per minute or two litre per minute flow. To check and cross check whether 90 per cent oxygen concentration is at one litre per minute of two litre per minute. Check for oxygen concentration at a higher flow rate.

Remember, that the air that we breathe has about 20 per cent oxygen. A small, five to 10 kg concentrator that one would purchase would give an output of 20 to 30 per cent oxygen at a higher flow rate. In other words, it is simply blowing air — minimum to no use for a COVID-19 patient. Check the readings on the oxygen concentrator carefully.

A five to 10 kg oxygen concentrator means that it will manage to give oxygen of 90 per cent at flow rate of one to two litres. A 15 to 19 kg oxygen concentrator will have a compressor that will have an oxygen concentrator of 90 per cent at flow rate of one to five litres which is ideal for COVID-19 and critical care patients. A 20 kg and above concentrator will have a larger compressor and will give 90 per cent oxygen between one litre to 10 litres which is ideal for COVID-19 patients.

Not only is one supposed to check the output of an oxygen concentrator, one has to check the highest flow level and the concentration of oxygen that one will get at the highest level. One has to get 90 per cent oxygen at the highest flow level of the machine that one is going to purchase. For a smaller family, where one has no senior citizens, a five litre at 90 per cent concentration should be sufficient. For a big family with senior citizens, 10 litres with 90 per cent oxygen concentration should be enough. This can assist senior citizens for critical care at home, if need be.

The need of the hour is to buy oxygen concentrators that give 90 per cent oxygen at a higher flow rate. Ask the vendor to show the markings and oxygen output.            By

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